This week we welcome Lavanya Arora, (@frantumaglia), a final year postgraduate student in functional genomics and molecular genetics at Amity University Rajasthan, India. Lavanya has worked on plant-plant parasitic interactions, studied the effects of a polluted water body on its immediate surroundings, and is currently studying the genetic diversity and population dynamics of a Himalayan medicinal plant.
As usual, we asked Lavanya some questions about their scientific journey so far:
I had been curious since childhood about how things work in nature and would stick in front of the Discovery channel every day after school. Right after high school, we were supposed to make a choice from three different areas, to be pursued in secondary school and possibly further in life: commerce, arts, and science. I chose science and have loved the journey so far.
What are the scientific questions that drive you?
There are two questions that caught my attention a few years ago:
1) How do plants interact with their surroundings, both biotic and abiotic?
2) What could be the possible solutions to deal with the global food and nutrition crisis?
During that time, I thought I could play a part, even though a small one, in answering one or both of those questions in the long run.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working towards completing my MSc thesis at CSIR-IHBT, Palampur, India. The work revolves around looking at the genetic diversity and population dynamics of a Himalayan medicinal plant using SSR markers. The work involves a whole lot of sample collection, marker mining and validation, genotyping, and data analysis.
Why is that important and how can it help?
By studying the various populations of a medicinal plant, we get to choose a better variety or genotype for further large-scale growth of the plant. We may also get to know which variety is better suited for consumption, produces better quantity and/or quality of medicinal compounds it is known for, and is tolerant to environmental stress. This might help in choosing the best variety to target for extraction and development of a new/alternative pharmaceutical compound for the treatment of several ailments.
Please welcome Lavanya to Real Scientists!